Treats on the Internets

OH shelter allegedly using “homemade” gas chamber to kill dogs

4 years worth of downer cows in school lunches

Follow up on the dogfighting/kiddie daycare home story – this is where I waver on my commitment to opposing the death penalty

Houston SPCA seizes 1045 animals from home (Hopefully none are Pitbulls)

Good outcome for ten kittens tossed in the Missouri river

Retrieverman: Are Dog Wolves?

Cats’ Eyes – DNA explanation for night vision

Treats on the Internets

TN shelter says rescue group cherry picks the most adoptable dogs and leaves them with “dogs no one wants” so they will now charge that rescue group a $25 fee. What do you think?

Instead of scolding people who abandon pets at shelters in the night, maybe shelters should ask themselves if they are doing enough to make members of the community they serve feel comfortable approaching them in the light of day.

Time: The Secrets Inside Your Dog’s Mind

Suspected dogfighting activity at daycare home in Cook Co, IL

A comprehensive look at Denver’s Pitbull ban

Australian cat says Booya! to animal cruelty

They’re just pets” on Dolittler

No simple solutions to complex animal problems via legislation on AR-HR

Art: Driftwood horses

The Internets is Pissing Me Off Again

From MSN Money, an article titled “Why You Can’t Afford a Dog”:

In short, if you can’t find at least an extra $800 to $1,000 in your budget every year, don’t get a pet.

I have six pets which means apparently I have an “extra” $6000 a year in my budget for basic pet expenses. Newsflash: I work my pets into the budget – they are not “extra”. With the occasional “extra” money I have, I go to a movie or get a sandwich. Although it’s hard to believe that a card carrying poor person such as myself would ever be able to go to a movie given that I’ve got to spend six grand a year on my dogs.

More advice:

If you get laid off, start looking for foster care for your pets until times are better — and if the job market is particularly bleak (think “unemployed in Michigan”), you may have to give them away outright.

Sure because pets are “extra” and if you get laid off, they should be the first things kicked to the curb. Yes, I see your reasoning. Please take me to the next logical step:

When people say “I’d never give up my pet,” they’re usually speaking from a position of privilege. Sure, they may feel broke right now, but they’re still in a place where they can say what they would “never” do. If you were ever truly destitute, you’d know better than to make that kind of claim.

Or maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you lived in your sedan with four cats or out in a culvert with a husky-shepherd mix. Maybe all of you survived. But most of us aren’t cut out to take that kind of risk — and frankly, we shouldn’t. It’s too dangerous. A human life is worth more than the chance to nurture a corgi or a ferret for a few more years.

Besides, Fido deserves better than car camping and eating old Wonder bread from the food bank. Or suppose you got sick and had to leave your shelter in the woods. Would you want your kitten to slowly starve while trying to stay ahead of predators?

Dude. When did this train get rerouted to CrazyTown? We started out as too poor to own a dog, then we got laid off, suddenly we’re being stalked by bear at our thicket tent in the forest and I need to decide what kind of death is best for my Hello Kitty.

Here’s the thing: Pet ownership is for everyone, not just the wealthy or the middle class. Pets love poor people who take care of them responsibly just as much as they love rich people. That’s one of the great things about pets. And about being a pet owner.

I’m absolutely in favor of making smart, informed decisions regarding pet ownership and finances. But to my mind, these decisions should be based in reality. (I’m sort of a stickler for that kinda thing.) In real life, poor people have pets. They may need to sacrifice more than an owner with a higher income, but that’s what people do when it comes to family.

Montgomery Co Shelter Closing – Good News

You may have received e-mails or seen postings on Facebook, Twitter, etc yesterday about a shelter in Montgomery Co closing and killing any unadopted animals left after their final business day. The confusion appeared to stem from which Montgomery Co this was – New Jersey? Pennsylvania? The correct answer is Texas. And there is a good outcome according to the Texas shelter’s website – all the pets were adopted. So that’s that.

Thank you to my friend John Sibley for sorting this out.

I’m Sure This Will Increase Shelter Adoptions

I mean, who wouldn’t want the opportunity to go to jail?

Warner Robins [GA] city council passed an ordinance Monday night setting up a fine and prison time for people who don’t sterilize their pets.

The law will apply to animals adopted from the city shelter.
Council member John Williams says the penalties [up to 6 months in jail and $1000 fine] will help control the city’s pet population.

Yeah but see, no. What it will do is drive pet owners away from the city shelter. Responsible pet owners want to neuter their pets in their own time with consideration for their individual circumstances and recommendations from their Vet. Or they may choose not to neuter but rather to safeguard their pet from unintended breeding. In any case, how many owners are going to be willing to risk jail time when there are so many other means of obtaining a pet? I couldn’t find any solid figures on the shelter’s adoption rates online but I did come across a recent petition against their use of the gas chamber to kill pets. If the shelter is gassing pets to death, why make it far less likely anyone will want to adopt from there by instituting fines and jail time for non-compliance?

But wait – there’s more!

John Williams is also leading an effort to protect people from vicious dogs in the city. That’s after police say a pit bull attacked a small child last week causing serious injuries to the girl.

Given Mr. Williams‘ approach to “helping” the city’s pet population, I can’t wait to see his ideas on “protecting” the public from biting dogs.

TX Newspaper Exposes Killings at Garland Animal Shelter

The Abe Tuggle Animal Shelter in Garland Texas gasses pets. Although the community has raised objections to this method of killing, city officials in charge of the shelter say that no changes will be made. The Dallas Morning News (DMN) is investigating pet killings at the shelter:

The Garland animal shelter has been gassing young, sick or elderly cats and dogs in violation of state law, probably causing them a slower, more stressful death, records obtained by The Dallas Morning News show.

The shelter also may have violated city rules on how long animals must be kept before being euthanized. According to the records, some animals were killed within minutes of arriving at the shelter.

Mayor Ronald Jones, who received details of the newspaper’s findings on Thursday, said the city would investigate.


Using carbon monoxide on such animals is a Class B misdemeanor, punishable by up to 180 days in jail and a $2,000 fine for each charge.

DMN has obtained partial shelter records and has made a request for complete records from the past 3 years.

On June 1, 2007, five kittens were brought to Garland’s Abe Tuggle Animal Shelter and Adoption Center at 9:31 p.m. Shelter records show they were gassed between 9:32 p.m. and 9:43 p.m.

For emphasis, I’d like to reiterate the above. Five kittens were gassed within 1 – 12 minutes of arrival at the shelter. By even the most heartless of “standards”, 1 – 12 minutes is insufficient time to evaluate incoming shelter pets. A Garland city official tried to defend the practice of admitting shelter pets directly to the gas chamber by stating that a Vet might determine the animals had communicable disease. Indeed shelter records do indicate these kittens were listed as “sick”. How anyone could determine the health status of 5 kittens within seconds is beyond my comprehension but there you have it.

But the state code prohibits gassing young or sick animals because the time it takes them to die “may be significantly increased.”

“In animals with decreased respiratory function, carbon monoxide levels rise slowly, making it more likely that these animals will experience elevated levels of stress,” the code also says.

So if gassing young or sick animals is prohibited, I assume that gassing young and sick animals is decidedly illegal. But the Deputy Director of the city’s Health Department Jason Chessher reminds us there are pennies at stake here:

Garland shelter officials say that using carbon monoxide is easier on workers and more efficient because four animals can be gassed at one time. Chessher also said using gas costs about 4 cents less per animal than lethal injection.

In addition to pennies, education is also a priority for Garland:

Shelley Stonecipher, a veterinarian with the Texas Department of State Health Services, which oversees shelter inspections, said the state focuses on education rather than enforcement.

So at this monumental savings of 4 pennies for each pet gassed, the presumably tiny hourly salary for the most efficient Vet in the history of the world, and an emphasis on education, I can guess Garland is primed and well able to sponsor a visit from someone like Nathan Winograd to help them get their heads out of their asses ducks in a row. Or perhaps we’ll just wait and see what the DMN digs up next.

Room for Four More?

Chicago area: The wife in this story had been battling lung cancer for the past year. She apparently felt up to a short motorcycle ride with her husband, a maintenance man at an apartment complex, on Labor Day weekend. Sadly, they were both killed when a car struck them.

For Susan and Mike Kelms, their four dogs were like their children. And they always hoped they would stay together if anything happened to them.

About two weeks after the Kelmses were both killed in a fatal motorcycle crash over the Labor Day weekend, their family and a Burr Ridge shelter is looking for someone to adopt the pack.
They are 6-year-old Anacortes, a 47-pound female American Eskimo lab mix; 3-year-old Cedonia, a 34-pound female husky mix; 7-year-old Tacoma, a 92-pound male lab mix; and Everett, a 4-year-old, 47-pound, male Austrian Shepard lab mix.

The dogs are described as “well-mannered” and “best friends” who hang together at the shelter. Their late owners, who rescued each of the dogs, considered them family members. I hope what remains of this family can stay together, even if it’s a long shot.

What is a "Puppy Mill"? – Part 2

The following post was written in 2008 by Saluki breeder Betsy Cummings. I thought it would be perfect food for thought in my series on the subject of defining puppy mills. I’m most interested in your reactions, thoughts, and opinions on her points.


I got in late last nite from Springfield, MO. What is there to interest me? Well, the 18th Spring Educational Seminar and Meeting of the Missouri Pet Breeders Association. Yeah, the puppy mill folks. They prefer Professional Breeders. And after what I saw this weekend, I’m quite willing to cut them some slack.

On Friday were 4 seminars, although one was cancelled because the State Veterinarian had been bitten by a dog and the rabies vaxx was questionable, so the poor guy has to take the shots and wasn’t feeling well. So another guy came and spoke on something else. On Saturday was Pat Hasting’s Puppy Puzzle Seminar – which was FREE. To anybody. How many have paid $150 or more to a kennel club to see this seminar?

I’m now going to propose a viewpoint that I know full well isn’t going to be popular, nor is it going to win me friends. Many of you will scoff and criticize. It’s ingrained in “us” to do so. Say the words Puppy Mill, or Commercial Breeder and most of us have a knee jerk reaction of total horror. We picture “bubba’s” on Walmart parking lots and highway corners selling puppies to anybody who comes along. Not that that doesn’t happen. However, those folks tend to be wannabe’s and illegal puppy mills. There were only a few people there I’d call “Bubba’s” this weekend. MOST of the people were people just like you and me. You couldn’t have told by dress or manner what these folks did for a living. Most even spoke “educated beyond the 1st grade” english. And it was obvious from the gal with the poodle died pink to the gal who came in with a sheltie she’d rescued off an 8 lane highway and wanted her put somewhere safe, that these folks live and breathe DOGS. In that respect, they aren’t that much different from you and me.

Friday’s program included one that has me shaking my head and asking where “we” (“we” being the show dog fancy) are. The MPBA has no less than 3 professional lobbyists. One in Washington DC, and 2 in our state capital. Even more, the State Representative from Salem, MO is one of “them.” These 4 folks stood before a room of about 300 people and gave us a list of the legislation they’ve had a part in killing altogether, or getting changed to something reasonable. My question is…where the hell are WE??? If the MPBA can have THREE full time professional lobbyists…what’s OUR problem??? My next question is…Why the HELL aren’t we working with these people???? They know how to do it. They aren’t starting from scratch. They’ve been working in the trenches for quite awhile. And all supported by the puppy millers! These folks are fighting for OUR rights as much as for their own, but the end results are the same – I can still own dogs in the state of Missouri, and they don’t have to be spayed or neutered either.

Saturday’s program was Pat Hasting’s seminar. It was not quite as well attended as some of the Friday seminars since it was a ‘voluntary’ program. (I’ll explain that in a minute.) However, the room was probably over half full – call it 200 people give or take. She played the angle toward “If you’re breeding better dogs structurally, you make more money.” It was a good call. She went over 7 lab puppies – some were from show bred lines, and some from a commercial kennel. She wouldn’t say which were which. And based on the strengths and faults she found I certainly couldn’t tell. One had an ewe neck which she demonstrated by flipping that puppy’s head over onto its spine – no distress to the puppy! One had no muscling on the inside of it’s legs so when she stacked it and pushed just a teensy bit from the side the puppy fell over. 3 had slipped hocks. One had a herring gut. The gasps when each of these faults were demonstrated were…quite loud. And she flat out asked why they weren’t breeding away from these faults – they’d make more money providing a quality, well bred dog than ones with health and structural issues. There were some good questions from the audience, and some questions that are so basic as to be laughable…except nobody laughed. These folks are putting forth good effort, and I for one am willing to give them some credit for that. (And btw – Pat commented that each puppy was in it’s own crate and that when she does show litters they usually come in ONE crate. And those crates were scrupulously clean, with food and water. *G*)

Having said this, I’ll also state I’m not willing to sell to them, or breed with them. But there are show folks I can say the same about, so that’s nothing different. These folks are however, policing themselves. They don’t tolerate sub-standard kennels and they turn them in immediately. That’s better than “we” can say when we tolerate folks we KNOW have starving animals, or worse. And just who is it on most of the news when a rescue makes the news? More often than not it’s a “rescuer” or show breeder turned in by a neighbor…NOT by US.

Anyway, these folks are working to improve their industry. For 18 years they have continually raised the bar for their members. They provide seminars on everything from puppy nutrition to health in their kennels to structure – FREE. Not just for their members, but to ANYBODY. It was a very strange feeling to be in a building full of people I have always thought of as the “enemy.” So much so I was very reluctant to admit I’m a show breeder. But when I did once or twice, these folks never blinked. And just who was there? The AKC. Bil-Jac. Eukanuba. Royal Canin. Hunte Corp – who btw, had fully 1/5th of the room for their booth.

And let me detour on Hunte Corp a minute. They were handing out information on their standards for buying puppies. IE, the breeders must meet some minimum requirements before Hunte will purchase their dogs. On top of those minimum requirements they pay a bonus for such things as health tested parents, Ch parents, and something else that escapes me at the moment. So they too are not only raising the bar, but leading the way in doing so.

APRI was there. With videos of their events. I always thought they were just a paper registry. Well, they’re not. And lemme tell ya, the shutzhund and agility events looked pretty tuff. And not only that, but APRI alone gave $10,000 to the legislative fund – IE, the fund that pays for the lobbyists. Our little fledgling groups, PetPAC, etc would KILL for that kind of money right now.

And in all of this, I have to wonder…where are we? What are WE doing? If we choose to attend such a thing, it’s voluntary. These folks are requiring it of their members. You want to be considered a top breeder…then you MUST have continuing education. Not when I feel like it, but MUST, every year, have so many credits of education. Not even our JUDGES have to do that beyond what they do to earn more breeds. We watched folks spend THOUSANDS on equipment, food, meds, and by god TREATS. Just who gives treats to their dogs? Those who LOVE them. That’s who.

I had a conversation with a guy this weekend about his kennel. He proudly told me he is a “Blue Ribbon Kennel” – meaning he’s met the standards for the MPBA to earn that. He gets his education credits, etc, and I assume, has met some standards of health and cleanliness in his kennels. He said he’s *never* had an outbreak of anything in his kennel. Not even kennel cough. His “bio standards” are set so high that even his family must follow them in the house not just in the kennel. So I asked him what happens when the dogs leave his kennel. Their immune systems have never been challenged and suddenly they’re out in the big bad world being hit with everything all at once. He went, Oh. I never thought of that. Hm. He said “What do you do?” And I had to admit I’m a show breeder, so I breed once every few years and I do take extra precautions while the bitch is pregnant and when the pups are less than 9 weeks old, but that after that I have those puppies out and about every week or two so that not only do I immunize but I give their immune systems exposure to things outside of home so that when we do go on the road to shows and such they aren’t suddenly overwhelmed and have a chance to fight. I’m not sure I changed his mind exactly, but I did give him something to think about.

I admit, I went for the chance to see Pat Hasting’s seminar for free. Beyond that I was prepared to keep my mouth shut. Instead, I found myself going…wow. Just how many of us would goto this level of effort to keep our dogs? These people put their money where their mouth is. And I am quite willing to allow them the title Professional Breeder and to stop having a knee jerk reaction and give them some credit for things even “we” don’t do. That doesn’t mean there aren’t “Bubba’s” in this world, or that I include those folks in the term Professional Breeder. A professional of any kind be it lawyer, doctor, handler, veterinarian, engineer, architect, etc has professional standards to meet. These folks do too. And since *I* don’t care to provide puppies for every home that wants a dog I’m willing to allow the professionals to do so. It keeps MY dogs safe in the hands of those I feel will have respect for the dog, treat it the way I want my dogs treated, and HOPEFULLY they never end up in a shelter or dumped on the side of the road or as bait for a dog fight.

And I refuse to slam or denigrate these folks further. They are providing a service not ONE of us wants to do. And they have been working for at least the last 18 years to improve what they do – both in what they produce and the conditions under which they produce it. That JQP tends to treat dogs as a throw away commodity isn’t entirely their fault. It’s not ours either. It’s a societal thing and ALL of us must work to change that. Somewhere between dogs in shelters and puppymills lies the answer. I don’t know what it is. But JQP wants dogs – that much is obvious. And right now, even our basic rights to HAVE dogs is under attack. I for one am willing to work with the folks who have the experience and the know how to fight these things. And I’m willing to give credit where credit is due – here in Missouri at least, we have come under LESS attack than other areas and I recognize that a good part of that is because of the professional breeders and their lobbyists efforts.


Betsy & Kevin Cummings
Tribute Salukis

Copyright © 2008 Betsy Cummings

Document may be reproduced in its entirety (not in sections), as long as the author is credited.

Which Would be a Better Pet for Me?

As I mentioned in the previous post, Guinea Pigs are one of the pets I’ve long been interested in adding to the family. Also on that list: bunny. I’m going to provide a little info about our home environment and then hopefully some of you experienced owners will weigh in and advise if one seems more fitting than the other or if neither/both are suited.

Either a Guinea Pig or a bunny would be a house pet and segregated from the dogs by necessity since we have retrievers, a hound and a grumpy Chihuahua mix. I would hate to think of a pet being terrified by barking dogs so hopefully they would adjust to that. I’m not looking for a pet who wants to be constantly held and from what I’ve read, I think either would be a good match in that regard. On the other hand, I don’t think I’d enjoy any pet that wouldn’t tolerate at least a daily hug and kiss. I’m very cool with pets who like to “hang” – maybe sit on the couch next to me or what have you – but not so much the lap type. Subtle affection is the name of the game.

I have read that spay/neuter is recommended for both Guinea Pigs and bunnies but I don’t know if it’s truly necessary, especially if I have only one. And on that topic, I wonder if a lone GP or rabbit would be happy without companionship of its own kind.

OK that’s all I can think of at the moment. Please chime in if you have any advice.

Treats on the Internets

Dogs who died after playing in OR creek were poisoned by blue-green algae

Pitbull in need in Austin (video). Donate here.

Guinea Pigs are on my list of “someday pets”

Medical directives flyer for those opposed to animal research (pdf)

Maricopa Co AZ has some free spay-neuter services and Pibble owners can even make $20!

AR-HR blog reports John Yates of the American Sporting Dog Alliance has died

The end: Where was your breeder, your owner, your advocate JoJo?

Non-animal related: Are you happy?